Sep 9, 2012

[Technicolor Musings] An Experiment With Queer Location Based Applications

When I first became single, I initially made a commitment not to venture back into the queer social media scene, born largely of memories of past trauma on sites like the now defunct Guys4Men and the generally negative impressions of the whole deal. But when my singlehood dragged on and I eventually felt like I wasn't going anywhere, I finally broke that commitment and waded back into the murky waters.

I'd by lying if I said that it's been amazing since then. I am a man of more generous size compared to the queer ideal after all, I have no illusions about that. And so I still encounter those who don't appreciate my advances - as if I actually initiate conversations all that much since I have that in mind. Go figure.

But like all technology, it is not evil in itself. That ultimately depends on how you utilize the tools. So here's a quick run-down of my experiment with a few of the location based applications that worked for my Android-powered ASUS Transformers TF101.

So these are only the Android apps that I managed to try and my general impressions of each service:

GRINDR (free)
The grand daddy of most queer location-based apps, Grindr is simplicity at its best. Once you've downloaded the app, you just need to setup your profile and then you're ready to roll! Using your devices location data, it approximates which Grindr users are closest to you (but not very accurately) and allows you to exchange private chat messages along with photos or even your specific location.

You're free to use Grindr for random hook-ups or you can try the riskier track of making new friends. Needless to say, guys with shirtless profile photos tend to have a main priority over all others regardless of what they say in their profile. I'll just never appreciate how quirky the online / offline aspect works and many times the system seems eager to go offline just when you're checking your messages.

I do not see any true value in paying for the premium version of this service.

JACK'D (free)
I downloaded Jack'd since the users reviews seemed to indicate that it was the most successful free app of its kind. I suspect this may only reflect its success in the US and not the rest of the world.

Generally same principle as Grindr but this time you need to create a username and password for your account instead of just downloading the app. It has a quirky option to see who has viewed your profile but basically the same chat options and such.

I deleted it pretty quickly since nothing seemed to be happening for me. Maybe I'm not the right "kind" of gay guy for the site, hehe.

GROWLR (free)
Growlr was recommended by a new friend who happens to be a lot skinnier than me but is into guys of You know what I mean, right? I was surprised the app existed and ironically I think I've seen the most "success" from this app in terms of new conversations and contacts made (read: not necessarily hook-ups since I'm still a NERD). Same basic principle as the other apps but with a particular focus on the heftier sub-genre of the gay population.

The app allows you to identifiy yourself with more categories like cub, chub, bear, otter, etc amid the world of boys, chasers and other folks of that nature. It's really focused on helping guys who don't fit the gay stereotypical image to find like-minded queer guys.

For a free app, you already get the option to see who has viewed you, can reveal check-ins at variuos locations ala Foursquare and have two additional private photos on your profile to unlock when you see fit.

SKOUT (free)
Okay technically, Skout is not exclusively a queer app. It's a generic dating app that connects singles with one another, but it does allow you to desginate the sex of who you're interested, and thus it works. And there are a LOT of queer users on Skout, especially in the Philippines.

But that may be the issue - Skout does have a robust user base and limited options on the free platform for you to make the most of it. Skout has a premium points system that allows you to highlight your profile for more users to see or reveal the identities of users who have viewed your profile.

You can either purchase points or get them by downloading partner apps, mostly games. The point system gives you a LOT of different benfits here and there but think "pay-as-you-go" instead of like puchasing a regular plan with unlimited uses of each feature.

These are the only apps I've tried and I'm down to just Grindr and Growlr these days. Ultimately any app or website of this nature will only help you put yourself out there but any true interpersonal connections (or hook-ups if that's your thing) are still largely dependent on you as a person. Thus the app in itself is not some magic pill that will help you escape singlehood. Only you can do that for yourself.

But in the meantime, have fun with them.

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